A retired teacher from Mt. Vernon, Ill., who contributed a series of articles on fire towers to the River Hills Traveler a few years back, recently published a book about Missouri fire towers, called “Remembering Missouri’s Lookout Towers – A Place Above The Trees.”
“I spent about five years just thinking about writing the book,” said Bob Frakes. “Some of my fire tower friends suggested it, but I never got very serious about it.
“I had never written a book before, so I was a little hesitant.”
Frakes retired from teaching history a little over 10 years ago and said he had more spare time to spend on his hobby — fire towers.
“After retirement I started approaching newspapers and magazines about writing articles about the fire towers in Missouri,” said Frakes.
“There was definitely an interest and curiosity about the fire towers… what they were or to just relive the memories from when they were in use.”
According to Frakes, the articles really caught on and some newspapers even started reaching out to him. That’s how the whole thing grew.
“It all started when I climbed my first tower near my grandparents’ farm over 50 years ago,” said Frakes.
It was the Mud Lick tower site near Sam A. Baker State Park. Frakes was born in St. Louis, then moved to Mt. Vernon, Ill., when his dad was transferred, but his mom was in Patterson, Mo., and they went back several times a year and spent a lot of summers there.
“I found it a very interesting experience, and from then on it has always been a hobby of mine,” said Frakes.
“As a history teacher, everything about the fire towers interested me and the history about what used to be there and what it used to be like always intrigued me.”